Friday, August 14, 2015

On a bike

Riding a bike through the countryside is quite different from riding through it in a car. On a bike, you are part of the scene.  You take in the sites at a slower pace. You look longer and think about what you are seeing instead of whizzing by. There is no radio, no music, no podcast in the background. Just the sites and your thoughts. You also feel the air and smell the smells. Sun and shade along your way make a difference. You climb a long hill in the sun and then fly down the other side toward a bridge over the creek at the bottom of the hill. If the road along the creek valley is bathed in shade, you immediately feel the contrast of the cooler air against your skin and catch a whiff of the scent of water and damp earth. In a car, there is a screen and walls between you and the outside world. My dad mentioned this yesterday, referring to Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, which I've never read, but in which the author, as my Daddy related, speaks of the difference between riding in a car and riding on a motorcycle. A bike puts you even more in the picture because, well, you can't pedal as fast as a motorcycle takes you.

I look at people outside their houses when I bike. People on their porches. People working in their gardens, mowing their lawns, walking out to their mailboxes. On Monday, we rode a long loop around a Jordon Lake up near Chapel Hill. Along a quiet country road near the lake, we saw a big boat sitting parallel to the road in the yard beside a house. There was a man, shaggy hair under his baseball cap, sitting on a chair in the boat looking out at the road. He was just sitting there. Perhaps he was resting after working on the boat. Perhaps he was dreaming of taking that boat out in the lake early in the morning and catching a big bass and bringing it home to clean and cook on the grill. Who knows?

I like long rides because they give me a chance to step completely away from the to-do list. My brain gets a rest from thinking about what needs to get done and just roams over the countryside. I write little poems in my head, make up stories, take it all in.

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